Wednesday, August 29, 2018

REVIEW: 'Mr. Mercedes' - Everyone Becomes Concerned as Soon as Brady Wakes Up in 'Let's Go Roaming'

Audience's Mr. Mercedes - Episode 2.02 "Let's Go Roaming"

Hodges struggles with his cases at Finders Keepers, putting him at odds with a concerned Holly. Sadie senses a shift in Brady's medical state and informs Dr. Babineau. Jerome arrives home from Harvard for the summer.

How willing is the audience going to be in accepting the latest change in tone for Mr. Mercedes? Right now, "Let's Go Roaming" fully delves into the twist that Brady now has the capacity to mind control other people. That's a completely different genre than the way the show told its stories in the first season. It's the show branching off into more familiar Stephen King territory where something mystical and supernatural is occurring even though the true monstrosity is the humanity at the center of the tale. Brady is still a monster. It's just clear now that he has new tools in order to keep tormenting the people in his world. It may just be a convenient work around to explain why he still has access to technology and the freedom to hurt the people who were previously associated with him even though he's laying in a vegetative state. The premiere teased that he had woken up. The medical experiments by Felix and Cora worked. He made a complete and sudden recovery. That's not exactly true at all. Yes, there is some spike in activity. It's enough to make Felix excited and bring Tony down to the hospital to get two more months of experimentation from his superior. All of it is being down with the intention of Brady being able to stand trial and pay for his crimes. No one has an understanding that he has now been gifted with these powers. The show is going to have to explain how they work as well. Right now, it appears as if Brady just stares at his computer screen long and hard enough he is capable of being heard by a susceptible individual. It doesn't work every time someone comes into the room. When Tony and Hodges show up, they just see the same comatose man they have always seen. They were misled with the assertion that he had woken up. But to Sadie the nurse, Brady is very much alive and coercing her into doing many terrible things.

But again, is the audience willing to go along with this journey despite it being so radically different than the grounded storytelling of the first season? It is the only thing that is demonstrably different as well. The rest of the story is still being told in the same way. Brady's is the only narrative with a fantastical and mystic bent to it. It defies any kind of rational explanation. The only clarity the audience will ever get is "science." We can't understand the specific trial drugs that Cora gave to her husband for this experiment. It's clear that they have grand ambitions for whatever outcome the results may be. They are hoping this leads to some profound discoveries that will catapult their careers. They want to be credited with this medical breakthrough that could change humanity's understanding of the world. They are clearly doing that because they gave an individual the power to control another human being. Brady doesn't have to physically move at all. Yes, it's absolutely terrifying whenever Sadie looks down at him and he is staring right back at her. Brady's setup inside his mind teases that he is following along with the conversation even though the position of his head wouldn't give him the correct angle to catch everything that is going on in his room. He doesn't have control over his muscles. And yet, he still is looking up at Sadie on multiple occasions. That's enough to shock her. The first time she alerts the doctors. This is a massive change to his condition. What she saw is called into question but she has been doing this job long enough to know the difference between an individual who is alive and one who isn't. She knows what she saw and Felix is reaching for evidence that will also prove it to be true.

Of course, this news spreads like wildfire. The hospital wants to keep it contained. They are already getting so much bad press because they are treating a deranged killer. Everything being done to keep him alive comes out of the hospital's pocket. They are paying for all of these machines. There is no one else in Brady's life who can foot the bill or make the decisions of whether or not he should live. The state wants to try him for murder. Tony is willing to allow Felix to do whatever he wants in order to stage the trial of the century. He too is a very ambitious man who is looking to make a name for himself with this case. Sure, he's furious that Brady doesn't seem to have a reaction when he is alone in the room. He is squeezing his genitals. He is inflicting so much pain to see if this serial killer can feel it just like his many victims did. Tony has a firm understanding of the brutality that was left in Brady's wake. He has seen the pictures and gone over all of the statements. To Felix and Cora, it's still such an abstract story. They know that Brady is the most dangerous individual to ever come out of this city. But they aren't worried. He will either die from the drugs or he will wake up and remain in police custody. They don't have to be afraid for their lives. However, Brady having the ability to take over people should make the audience very worried that he's going to have a confrontation with the individuals who gifted him with these new abilities. Sure, he is hiding from Felix when he is conducting his exam. He doesn't want to be freed from this chamber of his mind. He fears that if he wakes up completely all of these new skills will be lost. Right now, he's capable of turning Sadie and using her to do his bidding. He wants to keep that a secret. He doesn't want her sharing the truth with anyone. By the time he truly takes hold over her though, she has already shared this news with the other nurses and the gossip quickly starts erupting.

Meanwhile, Hodges is still just trying to figure out what he is happy doing in his life. He doesn't want to accept that police work and hunting Brady were the only things that gave his life purpose. Ida already told him that he needs to start living his life instead of reacting to it. And now, Donna is telling him that he shouldn't have to be doing jobs that make him disgusted with the morals. Right now, he is repossessing the car of a struggling single mother while hunting down a man on the run with his kids trying to avoid testifying against the cartel. These are the jobs paying the bills for his new detective agency. He is doing the job mostly to make Holly happy. He sees how much she enjoys the work. She has a knack for it as well. Hodges wants to encourage that and help her focus her talents. He wants to be her mentor. He wants to teach her all that he knows about detective work. This is a relationship that can be very beneficial to both of them. And yet, Hodges is just pulling these jobs that don't make him feel good while also having to lie to Holly about them. He lets the man go despite being more than able to bring him in to testify. He does that because he has sympathy for his situation. It's a crummy situation. He feels better just being able to tell him how to leave so that he can avoid being tracked down the same way that Holly found him. All of this basically means that the only project that gives Hodges joy at the moment is rebuilding the gazebo for Ida. But even that is drenched with tragedy because it's a project also associated with Pete's death. He wants to be happy that Jerome is back for the summer. They can work on this project together. And yet, Hodges can sense that Jerome is lying about something from his past year away at college. They are still close friends who trust that the other will tell the truth eventually. But again, timing may not always be on their sides.

Hodges still springs into action once he gets the call that Brady has woken up. He formed a friendship with one of the nurses who works in that ward. As soon as she learns about what Sadie saw, she is more than willing to share it with anyone who will listen. She promises to keep it a secret and then openly talks about it. She knows just how exciting a twist like this can be for the story. It means the celebrity in the ward may be moving out soon. Hodges immediately rushes off to the hospital. He doesn't even stop to explain what's going on. He doesn't even tell Holly and Jerome, who were also closely associated with the case. Instead, they are just left behind grasping for what could possibly have happened. It again shows that Brady is such an intense part of Hodges. The detective couldn't find the strength to kill his greatest enemy in the premiere. That simply wasn't who he was. But Brady woke up after that attempt on his life. That depravation of oxygen forced him to create this elaborate recreation of his basement where he was able to destroy so many lives. And now, he somewhat has his freedom once more. But even he is so defined by his past with Hodges. He is the detective he loved teasing. He wanted to prove just how smart he was at every possible turn. He taunted Hodges with the expectation that he would kill himself. Instead, it led to destruction for both of them. As such, it's easy to understand the impulse from both of them to still try to kill each other. Hodges can't do it. Meanwhile, Brady isn't allowed to do it. Sadie is sneaking up with a scalpel but is interrupted before being able to plunge it deep into Hodges. That loosens Brady's hold over her as well. That makes it clear that Brady doesn't have a firm grip on his new powers. That just means the show will be expanding upon them further very shortly because they need to have rules that the audience can easily understand and follow. Moments where Hodges is in danger need to have weight to them instead of empty teases of Brady somehow being able to just do this now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Let's Go Roaming" was written by David E. Kelley and directed by Jack Bender.
  • Lou comes back into the narrative this week as well. Even though a year has passed, she is still dealing with physical therapy from being stabbed by Brady. She survived her injuries but the recovery has been much more arduous than Hodges' heart attack. And now, she too hears about Brady waking up. But that mostly inspires her to finally get the tattoo on her stomach that she has been thinking about for a long time.
  • Jerome's big secret is that he isn't getting straight A's at Harvard like he is boasting to his family. His father is so proud of his son and all that he is achieving. Jerome was literally propped up as a success story in this community at the end of the first season. And now, he returns with a beard and a vape pen. Plus, he is forging his grades to further this lie. That's bound to come back and hurt him at some point.
  • Moreover, it seems unlikely that Jerome will just be contained to the story of rebuilding Ida's gazebo. He provided assistance to Hodges on the Mercedes case. He was able to work with Holly to crack the mystery. And so, he will probably get involved with the various cases at their new business. Of course, he will also be worried about Hodges as he becomes obsessed with Brady once more.
  • I was so curious to see what would happen next in Susanna Skaggs' career after her tremendous and moving work during the final season of AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. She was so mesmerizing in that role even though it was her first time appearing on camera. As such, I'm hoping for great things from her here even though she's such a minor character. She shows up as a friend of Jerome's sister who is also in Ida's summer school class.
  • The show has taught the audience to always be wary of new technology. Even though it's technically set a few years in the past, the themes and dangers are very prescient to the modern world. Ida may not be teaching her students on iPads but the school does provide them with devices that may help them better understand math. She agrees that they are crap. But she remains hopeful. Meanwhile, the audience should suspect that these devices are capable of being used for sinister purposes as well.